By Victor Wanchena
The documentary Charge follows the birth of electric motorcycle racing on a grand scale at the Isle of Mann TT race. The film chronicles the work of several teams as they prepare and eventually compete in the inaugural running of an electric bike class (TTXGP) at the 2009 Isle of Mann TT.
The cast of characters is broad and varied. There is the high-dollar no-expense-spared effort of US team MotoCzysz. Then there’s the eccentric electrical genius of Cedric Lynch and his Indian partners with Team Agni. The local heroes with shoestring budgets and familiar names like Mission motors and Brammo. They all paint an interesting picture as this odd mix find themselves center stage as pioneers in rapidly evolving technology and motorsports.
The pace of the movie is good with the usual tension building as preparations for the first electric TT go anything but according to plan. There is the plenty of hope, desire, and will on the part of competitors along with plenty of defeat, despair, and a little glory. It’s narrated by Ewan McGregor and directed by Mark Neale. If that combo sounds familiar, it because the two have partnered for several films including: Faster, Fastest, and The Doctor, the Tornado, & the Kentucky Kid. Charge feels similar those in its pace and tempo.
For fans of the Isle of Mann TT it is interesting glimpse into the new facet of the race. Tech junkies will enjoy the engineering of it all, experimental motors, mega batteries, and purpose built machines. Even non-motorcyclists will find something to like in the reality of the drama in this era of faux-reality programming. The fascinating part for me was watching the birth of something new for motorcycling. Racing, for better or worse, drives the sport in many ways. This was really a rare chance to watch the behind the scenes work of early visionaries in a unique sport.